I have decided to go through a Jukai ceremony. Otherwise known as “taking the precepts.” Otherwise known as (according to Wikipedia) the Buddhist Initiation ritual.
One person asked if this was like a “come to Jesus” thing. No it isn’t anything like a “come to Jesus” thing. Not even close. I have had one of those experiences, too, and it was way more exiting (to be honest). However, here I am doing a ritual in which I declare that I am now Buddhist. I guess that should tell you everything you need to know about my “come to Jesus” experience.
I didn’t really realize I was going to go through with this until last week. It kind of suddenly hit me that this was something that I need to do. This is the next step. I have been practicing Buddhism for 4 years and I really feel like I need to make a real committment to it.
So what does this mean? It just means that I am declaring to a bunch of people that I am Buddhist. That is it. And I’m not even Zen Buddhist (Declaring yourself a Zen Buddhist is a whole other ritual, apparently). In the ritual you declare that you are going to live your life by following the Buddhist precepts – a code of ethics.
I feel like I could write so much more about this but I think I will save my thoughts for future blog posts. Let’s just leave it at this for now. I think it is enough.
I am excited. Like I said, I feel like this is the direction I need to go. It feels good to go in the direction your heart is telling you to take.
Our time in Amsterdam was unforgettable for many reasons. But I think the thing that will stick with me the most about this vacation was the experience of meeting my internet friends in person. We come from far-reaching corners of the world and it was really incredible that we somehow were able to make this meet-up happen. And it seemed so effortless! I have known some of these friends for longer than others but the friendship that has grown with each of them individually via Twitter, Flickr, & Facebook means something to me. However, one can only know a person so well online. I think in general I had a sense that they are all good people – that I think a person can figure out pretty quickly online. But there is something missing about the person you get to know online. Meeting these wonderful people in person filled in those missing blanks. Kind of like coloring in a comic or something. Or maybe even animating it and bringing it to life. It’s nice.
In short: I highly recommend meeting your internet friends in person, even if you have to travel thousands of miles to do it. It’s worth it!
Amsterdam was incredible too. I didn’t fall in love with the city like I did with Paris, but I really really like it a lot. I think about it a lot and I want to go back and experience more of it.
Finally, here is a video that I made about our trip. Amsterdam in 48 seconds:
Our last day in Amsterdam was packed full. We decided to first go to Waterloopleinmarkt (the flea market). I was hoping to find some good deals on old film cameras. Unfortunately, it started raining when we were there and everything that wasn’t under a tent was immediately covered up. So if there was a table full of cameras there I did’t get to find it. I did, however, score an old Kodak Brownie box camera for 9 euros. I had to kind of chuckle at how much everyone freaked out over the rain. It was merely a mist and yet you’d think the sky was falling. I guess when you are used to the sky falling a little mist is nothing, really. Here are some photos I took there with my Olympus XA and iPhone:
Rainy flea market
When we were done there we wandered back toward our hotel. We took our time and I shot more photos as we went along. We found ourselves wandering into a coffee shop. We were both curious and would have regretted it if we’d left Amsterdam having not been inside one. I was a little hesitant at first. My assumption was that entering one of these places would be akin to entering a crack den (since pot is illegal here and completely demonized). However, I was shocked at what I experienced when I went inside. It had the atmosphere of, indeed, a coffee shop. There were couples sitting at the tables enjoying bong hits together. There were a couple of younger twenty-something guys giggling uncontrollably as they were recalling a story. One of the couples sitting at the table were older, my mom’s age. The people working there were very friendly and professional. The vibe was chill. It was awesome, frankly. My assumptions were totally shattered. I am not sure what other coffee shops are like in Amsterdam, but the one we visited was very nice.
Here are some photos from our wander back to the hotel:
Hot dog stand
And finally, we really wanted to get to the Rijksmuseum . When we finally made it over there we only had an hour to spend. So we spent a frantic hour trying to find all of the pieces we wanted to see. Here is a tourist taking an iphone snap of The Milkmaid.
I honestly don’t remember much of the Rijks. It was a blur.
On Day five we decided to visit the Rembrandt House Museum. It was awesome. It was the best museum experience I have ever had, actually. On the day we went they were not doing the printing demonstration, which made us sad. HOWEVER, when we reached the top floor, in the studio they were giving a free printing workshop! We got to make our own etching and prints from our etchings to take home. I decided that it would be perfect if I drew my beloved Zero 2000 and then made an etching of it.
I love to draw but it isn’t my strongest talent.
As I was setting up my camera to draw it, I thought: “I need to pinhole myself drawing my pinhole camera.” So I did.
Afterwards we met up with Brendan, Lorraine, and Jeff for a quick coffee before Brendan and Lorraine had to catch the train. Brendan suggested we go check out the library a few blocks away. We meandered over there and Raf took my photo in front of it.
Me in front of the library
We went inside and Oh. My. God. This is the most amazing library I have ever seen. There was an entire floor devoted to music – and they were actually playing music at the desk! The Art collection was spectacular. There was a PINHOLE display on one of the floors. There is a cafe on the top floor AND there is a bar. I want to work at this library. Raf and I were also amused that they also used the Dewey Decimal system and we will be sure we tell our students about this when we teach about it. Honestly, it’s kind of awesome that it is used all over the world.
The battery in my iphone died pretty much when we entered the library so no tourist snaps of the inside. 😦
The last great thing of the day was going back to the jenever bar with Jeff. We chatted with the beautiful Ana, who was our waitress. Jeff took this nice photo of Raf and I.
my favorite person and me.
And I, of course, had to pinhole the experience.